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Thursday, March 27, 2014

03262014 Wednesday of Lent 3

Sermon Audio

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

If you drive outside of Goodland West on 8th Street and turn left or South right before you go off on the dirt road, you will drive past two very important places.  First you will drive past the Ethanol Plant that is being built and next you will drive past the Sunflower plant that processes the seed.  For most, these two locations might be an eye sore or currently or in the future will smell funny, but for others, they mean business and money here in Northwest Kansas, whether from the development of each or the opportunity that will come when complete.  What is ironic is that both the ethanol plant and sunflower plant revolve around one commodity that even in Jesus day was very important.  It was oil, but for Jesus it was olive oil, like is used when cooking.  In our day and time, crude oil which is pumped from the ground even here in Northwest Kansas from decaying fossils and it is for some countries and cultures the end all be all.  Everything relies upon it from our clothes, cars and even our commodities.  But there is another application for oil here in the church, not crude oil, but olive oil in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism.

When in Israel there were numerous Olive groves throughout the country that not only provided great eating, but also opportunity to see first-hand olive presses.  If you were to walk down the aisle at Wal-Mart, you can find many different types of olive oil, from low grade olive oil, to virgin olive oil and extra-virgin olive oil.  Each grade is dependent upon how it was extracted.  Low grade olive oil needs to be crushed from the olives and the higher grade oil, known as ‘extra-virgin’ naturally when placed in the press needs no crushing action to extract the oil that is the finest and purest.  When traded in Jesus day it would be the most expensive and used in most ointments and perfumes because it was not crushed or bruised in its preparation.

The extra-virgin olive oil connects us with baptism because of its use even today.  When we baptize and pour Water and Word over an individual and offer life and salvation and eternal life, we receive God’s greatest blessing.  And this blessing not only comes in Baptism, but we are reminded of this with the oil used to anoint as part of the rite of Baptism.  When baptized, special extra-virgin olive oil that has been blessed is used to make the sign of the cross over the persons head and heart as an additional reminder that we are signed, sealed and delivered to Jesus Christ through our baptism into His life death and resurrection.  With this additional element of the rite we are reminded of God’s continued promises.

Not only at baptism, but when children come and receive the blessing at the Lord’s Supper it is a reminder of their being signed by the Cross of Christ forever.  For children this is a tangible way to remind them of God’s continued promises for them and their anticipation of receiving the Lord’s Supper.  Not only at the Lord’s Supper, but also for all of us on Ash Wednesday when we came forward and the sign of the cross is made over our foreheads, it reminds us that dust we are and to dust we shall return.  And the extra-virgin olive oil used to make the ash is an additional reminder of God’s anointing upon our lives and God’s continuous involvement with each of us every day.

And the connection is even more tangible for the sick, whether at home, the hospital or on their death bed, for oil for anointing is used with prayers and hymns and spiritual songs to anoint persons who are sick and in need of the reminder of God’s Promises made in their Holy Baptism.  For this is the nature of God to remind us in many and various ways of how God offers us life and salvation and even connects us to the liturgical actions in the sacraments through the simple use of extra-virgin olive oil.

For the gifts offered unto us are clear and unmistakable, they are of life and salvation and the greatest reminder of our healing that we will receive in our entrance into heaven.  We humans think only of the here and now, but God looks to the eternal, for with the oil of gladness and our reminder with the oil of anointing we are reminded of God’s promises for all eternity. 

With our being anointed with oil we will be forever healed, because of God’s anointing us over our head and heart as a reminder of our baptism into His life, death and resurrection.  Those are the promises that God makes and fulfills and when we are anointed with oil, reminded of clearly and unmistakably in this simple action.  These are the promises of God that are made to and for us and signed with the olive oil that anoints our head and heart and reminds us of when we were baptized.  For God fulfills His promises of the Gospel that is for all of mankind, but especially all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel that have been anointed with oil as a reminder of our eternal healing through Jesus Christ.  AMEN.

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